While most rappers try to convince people they're drug dealers, even though they aren't, the Clipse find themselves in the opposite situation. They're trying to convince people they aren't drug dealers, even though they obviously are.

The first sign was when the older of the two brothers, who appears to be about 50 (he must have dipped into his own supply once or twice) put out that video of himself making pancakes, right around the time their manager got sent up for epic weed and cocaine trafficking. For a minute there, it looked like it was about to be a video about how to make crack. He had the Pyrex pot, and the stove cranked up, just like on a Raekwon album. I was like, what the fuck is this guy doing? Doesn't he know it was just revealed that all of those songs about he and his brother moving weight were true stories? Hell Hath No Fury sold as if it was HPV in audio form, but the Clipse can't be that desperate that they're making videos of themselves selling drugs and uploading it to the web, can they?

But come to find out, it was just a video of him making himself a stack of delicious pancakes. The idea was obviously to suggest that the Clipse are regulars, who have to make themselves stacks of delicious pancakes, because they can't afford to pay a smokin' hot stripper in one of those French maid outfits to make it for them, the way a drug dealer would. (I'm assuming this is what a drug dealer would do, based on what I would do, if I had that kind of money.) Then the camera zoomed out to reveal the exterior of his house, and his BMW, which were certainly nicer than anything I'll ever have, but hardly beyond the grasp of someone who's reasonably intelligent and who managed to find a job that pays a salary commensurate with his level of ability. (Again, I can only imagine what this would be like.) The guy next door probably works in insurance or some shit.

This video would have been more convincing to me, if I didn't have serious doubts as to whether the Clipse have ever made any money from selling rap albums. That first album wasn't a complete and utter failure; "Grindin'" probably came on the radio, if you weren't living in a town with 17,000 people and two country stations at the time. But the album was produced by the Neptunes in its entirety, and it didn't sell the way you'd expect an album produced in its entirety by the '02-era Neptunes to sell. If it had generated a profit, it probably wouldn't have taken so long to produce a followup. Said followup, when it finally was released, was a complete and utter failure. And everything they did in the interim and since has been free mixtapes, and not the kind of free mixtapes where they should almost be paying you to download it - the kind of free mixtapes where the artists, suspiciously, could give a rat's ass about releasing a real album.

The dead giveaway was when the Clipse did a song with Rawse. Didn't the Clipse used to talk down on rappers who pretend to be drug dealers, in interviews? I'm asking, because I'm honestly not sure, but I do seem to recall that being the case. Someone get Brendan Frederick on the phone. He's into the Clipse the way white women are into Twilight. (*searches eBay for a set of RZA's old fangs*) He probably has a shrine to the Clipse in his garage, like that guy who assassinated Biggie Smalls. Even if they never dissed Rawse and his ilk, you'd have to think they'd be wary of doing a song with him. Rawse isn't just a pretend drug dealer - this motherfucker used to be a cop. Doing a song with him would be brand suicide, for a group whose career is predicated on the fact that they really are drug dealers. Unless that was the goal.

Doing a song with Cam'ron wouldn't necessarily be useful to that end because Cam'ron doesn't sell drugs, but because I'm convinced Cam'ron doesn't do much of anything. It became clear to me, listening to Crime Pays (which isn't bad, for what it is), that Cam'ron wouldn't have any moral problems with being a drug dealer. This motherfucker would sell crack to a grade school kid and show him how to smoke it. He's as hollow on the inside as I pretend to be on the Internets, to keep myself in reasonably priced Australian wine. That irritable bowel syndrome must have really fucked with his psyche. But if you notice, Cam'ron will just up and disappear for months, or years at a time, and I'm pretty sure he's not out selling drugs. He's probably just sitting at home that entire time. Part of it might be that, like old women who used to do anal (which ruins your asshole), he's afraid to stray too far from somewhere where he knows he can use the restroom. But he's probably just a huge slacker. The dead giveaway was when he revealed that he was working on his own version of Curb Your Enthusiasm. He probably sits around in his underwear all day watching Hannah and Her Sisters, like I did when I was in college. In fact, he might want to consider getting into blogging. I mean, since he's sitting at home all day anyway. I can tell from his rhymes that he's fascinated with language. I'd love to hear his thoughts on the movie Precious.

But I digress.

The Clipse's video with Cam'ron, for "Back by Popular Demand," finds them standing in the lobby of Obama Fried Chicken, rapping about sitting in a car eating chicken and fries. Unless fried chicken is a new Ghostface-style euphemism for cocaine, I'm assuming this is another attempt to align themselves with the common man. I had to eat some fried chicken in the parking lot of a Popeyes once, because I couldn't wait to get home. But it wasn't because of some sort of sad pathology, like in the aforementioned Precious - there was an incident. I ordered my chicken, got around to the window and paid for it. The girl put my chicken in a box, then put the box in a plastic bag, and then she got into an argument with some guy whose order she probably fucked up. The whole time she's standing there arguing with this guy, she's got my chicken in her hand, swinging it around and shit, when she could have just as easily given it to me and gone back to arguing with him. I was hungrier than a motherfucker. I would have gone inside, but, as I'm sure you can imagine, I'm deathly afraid of confrontation. I finally got my chicken, when the cops showed up (at random, probably just to get some chicken), and the guy was like, nevermind. How much do you want to be she really did fuck up his order, and he let it slide, because he didn't want to go to jail over some ol' bullshit? That's why, when I have the time, I go out of my way to visit fast food restaurants staffed by white people. Yeah, I said it!

If this new Clipse song lacks the same level of detail as my Popeyes story, that's because the Clipse don't really eat at Popeyes. There probably isn't a Popeyes anywhere near the older one's house. (Think of the nicest neighborhood where you saw a Popeyes.) They just want you to think that, to throw off the scent.